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Posted: July 28, 2010

Take a cue from World War II

An example of solid strategic planning

Laurence B. Valant

Editor's note: Here is another valuable excerpt from the new success book by Colorado-based national business consultant Laurence B. Valant and partner Gayle W. Hustad, Lead and Manage! The definitive guide for getting the results you want.

Valuable examples of solid strategic planning are found throughout history, and perhaps no better one can be identified than in the darkest hours of World War II. From the earliest days of the conflict, the allied forces - America, Great Britain and the Soviet Union - were united in their vision: take back the continent of Europe from Hitler. The overarching strategy for implementing the vision took much longer to achieve.

From as early as 1942, the Americans favored a cross channel invasion entering. Europe on the coast of France. Churchill campaigned for an invasion through Italy. Hating to abandon Great Britain's investment in the Mediterranean, Churchill felt that shifting men and landing craft back to the United Kingdom for an invasion whose success they doubted as unwise (they had been there, done that before, at Dunkirk).

The Soviets were angered that an invasion had been delayed from 1943 to 1944, and were suspicious of the motives and plans of their allies.

The officer responsible for the detailed planning for Overlord, the code name for the invasion, was Lieutenant General Sir Frederick Morgan. "Freddie" Morgan was not responsible for the overarching strategy of D-Day, but as early as 1941, he had been given the responsibility for planning a what if event. The allies' overarching strategy, firmly fixed by January 1944, was a multi-force invasion on the coast of France. Unknown to most, Freddie Morgan, from the overarching strategy given to him by Churchill and Roosevelt, developed the strategic plan for D-Day.

Guidelines for determining an overarching strategy:

• Broadly outline the major strategic thrust that will be required to realize the vision.
• Define in general terms the approach to the market and the timing of that approach.
• Include the economic estimates of the impact of executing the strategy successfully and the resulting effects on the firm's value estimated in terms of incremental Residual Income.

Remember from Overlord that the overarching strategy provides the foundation upon which the strategic plan will be developed. Once the overarching strategy is defined, the next important step is to determine how the organization must look if the overarching strategy is to be implemented successfully. For the overarching strategy to succeed, it is crucial that the right people be chosen to lead and to manage.

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Laurence B. Valant is President and CEO of Valant & Co., a Denver-based business performance improvement consultancy that has worked with almost 300 firms to increase their value by billions of dollars. He is co-author of the hot-selling new book, “Make Plan! With Effective Execution” and now, “Lead and Manage!” Valant can be reached at lvalant@valantco.com or at 303-589-3840. If you want more information or would like to order a copy of “Stop Breaking These Rules! 100 Hard-Hitting Truths for Business Integrity and Performance,” please visit www.valantco.com.

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